parenting parentingafterloss perspective stewardship

Hey, Mom, are you an owner or a steward?

parent of steward

Today is the 25th birthday of my third child. Having lost her older brother 2 short years before, I was so scared to lose her, as well, but she made it, and she was fine and feisty and determined and smart and has been every day since. And what a joy she has brought into our lives. In the last 27 years that I’ve been a mother to the remaining 5, I have struggled to stay at peace and not get lost in thoughts and feelings of fear and dread. Questions raced through my head, probably just like they do yours. In the beginning it was more centered around just hoping they would make it through the night. Then it was hoping that they would get good grades in school. Then I would stay up late worrying whether they were going to get home safely on the weekend. Are they going to pass all the tests? Are they going find their purpose? Are they going to marry the right person? Are they going to follow God plans and His leading? Have I done all I can do? Or if they don’t “get it right,” is it my fault? Do I need to do more?

In the last year, I have begun to wonder if the word “mother” more resembles the word “steward” or “owner.” We walk around saying, “My daughter this…” or “My son that…” Having been a middle school English teacher for 10 years, it struck me that we use possessive pronouns when we talk about our relationships, and, namely, our children. It seems to unconsciously give me the idea that I have the right and responsibility to decide what they do or what happens in their lives. Somehow, they have become something that I try to steer and control to do what I think is best.

Now don’t get me wrong, just like you, I have my children’s best interests at heart. I do want them to be happy and healthy and live long lives. And in all honesty, I don’t want to bury another child which is a heartbreak that seems too large to bear again. But who’s children, are they really? Mine? Or is it possible that your children have been given to you as a temporary gift just as my children have been given to me, but that they aren’t actually ours, at all.

Solomon agrees and says that “children are God’s love gift; they are heaven’s generous reward.” (Psalm 127:3 TPT)

At the same time, in 1 John 4:4a, the Father tells us, “Little children, you can be certain that you belong to God.” (TPT)

This leads me to believe that they are God’s children. Not mine. The Father, in His grace and love and wisdom and generosity allows me to walk alongside HIS children and serve them.  He chose THEM specifically for me and ME specifically for them, but they BELONG to HIM. NOT ME. And not you.

This perspective can really transform your parenting and give you and your children such freedom. These children that we have been entrusted with are ultimately HIS responsibility! We no longer have to worry about the number of days they live on this earth. We can trust that God will protect them and that He will number their days. We don’t have to worry about their lives or if they are going to be successful or happy or if they’re doing things are that are not in line with God’s precepts. We can trust that He is good and loving, and that HE will guide them. He loves them infinitely more than you or I ever could.

“Can a mother forget the baby at her breast and have no compassion on the child she has borne? Though she may forget, I will not forget you!” (Isaiah 49:15 NIV)

He is faithful not only in my life and in your life. The Lord is faithful in the lives of our children. And that is a promise that we can trust in and find true rest in. He will guide them. He will protect them. He will be there, even in the times and places that we cannot be.

Another question that can be really helpful to ask yourself is, “What the goal of my parenting and also for the lives of my children?” My goal is that they glorify Jesus in how they lead their lives and that they ultimately spend eternity together with Him. Contrary to what we may feel or what the world screams all around us, it shouldn’t be our focus that they be happy or safe, or even just that they make it through. Living an obedient life completely surrendered to His good and perfect plans is the focus that I hope and pray and try to cultivate in my children. Joy, happiness, fulfillment, and enjoyment follow HIS plans, not mine and not my children’s.

“When you live a life of abandoned love, surrendered before the awe of God, here’s what you’ll experience: Abundant life. Continual protection. And complete satisfaction!” (Proverbs 19:23 TPT)

I don’t know if you’re like me, but if someone lends me something, I am much more careful with it then if it’s mine. Shouldn’t it be like that with our children as well? Let’s bring the Father’s children before Him in prayer every morning and ask Him how we can serve HIS children today? So, Father, how can I serve YOUR children today? Show me how I can teach them about Your character. Show me Your plans for their lives, for today and in the future. Show me how I can bring them closer to You. Give me Your eyes to see each one of them. Give me specific insight into Your heart for them and give me a heart overflowing with Your love for them. Let me mirror your kindness and goodness, patience and gentleness. In Your Son’s name, Amen.